2015 Mural Contest Third-Place Winner: The Unbroken Tree
Congratulations to Valley Youth House in Warminster, Pennsylvania, third-place winner of the 2015 Family & Youth Services Bureau Mural Contest for Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs.
For the fifth year, runaway and homeless youth programs funded by the bureau were given the chance to win the materials to paint a mural in their facilities. A jury of bureau staff and young people from Los Angeles LGBT Center, last year’s winning agency, picked the winner and two finalists.
Here is the third-place artwork and accompanying essay. You can see many of the artwork entries in our 2015 Mural Contest slideshow.
The entire process of creating the mural was driven by the 13 youth residing at the Bucks County Basic Center. A peer house representative facilitated groups at the basic center to allow the youth to develop the mural's concept, name, materials they will use to create the mural, the mural's location and the sketch. They also provided staff with a brief explanation of the mural’s message. After the last group session, the house representative attended a clinical staff meeting to present the mural concept to the staff and to let staff know how they could support the project. The youth then named the mural and wrote up the mural message to be submitted.
The youth also determined that young people who move on from the shelter during the mural development will continue to return to the program to help complete the project and to orient all new youth to the mural. The final mural will be placed on a wall in the basic center’s living room.
Here is the narrative written by the residents:
As residents here at Valley Youth House, we all came in with different mindsets. Even though we are all different, we have things in common. Those few things we share are in the broken tree (desperation, fear, sorrow, stress, loss). We all feel these, but we express them differently.
Having the chance to be here at Valley Youth House is a wonderful experience. It gives you a chance to change the direction you are heading in (the regrowth in the tree). Staff and residents teach you a lot of skills in many different ways. All the benefits of being at Valley Youth House are in the branches of the new tree, which grew when we got to Valley Youth House. We get a choice in where we want to go in our future like Independent Living. The staff and residents are an amazing support system and give awesome advice and guidance. You build positive relationships and learn how to avoid or deal with negative relationships.
Valley Youth House opens doors that not many places can. The staff are incredible with motivating residents to reach their goals like getting a job, going to school or saving money for their future.